Plane & Pilot
Monday, August 1, 2005

Turbulent Times

Grappling with gusting winds during landings

Mooney M20K
The single-engine Mooney was arriving at Jackson Hole Airport in Wyoming after a day-VFR flight from Riverton, Wyo. The pilot told an investigator that he had attempted to land on runway 19, but performed a go-around because of wind shear at approximately 15 to 20 feet AGL. During the second landing attempt, he increased his airspeed to compensate for the wind. The pilot reported that as he was executing the flare for touchdown, “the bottom dropped out.” He added power for another go-around, but the airplane continued to sink. He reported that the airplane drifted to the left and struck a runway light. The landing gear collapsed, both wings were bent, and the fuselage was wrinkled. Although the airport’s automated weather observation system reported that the winds were from 210 degrees at nine knots, the pilot said that they appeared to be from 250 degrees at 10 to 15 knots. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of the accident was the pilot’s failure to maintain aircraft control, resulting in a stall and mush. Contributing factors included the wind shear, the crosswind as well as the runway light.

Beechcraft 18
The airplane was landing at the Airlake Airport in Lakeville, Minn., on August 29, 2004. Runway 12 was in use, which was 4,098 feet long by 75 feet wide. The day-VFR flight had departed a private airstrip near Spooner, Wis. The pilot told investigators that the crosswinds on final were quite strong and that he needed to crab into the wind to maintain runway alignment. He reported that after the initial touchdown, the airplane bounced about three to four feet into the air. He said that the “wind got under the right wing” and the airplane went off the left side of the runway. He said that the airplane then groundlooped, and the left wing hit the ground. The airplane then struck a number of light boxes while continuing in a left turn. The right main landing gear separated, and the airplane went into a ditch. One passenger received minor injuries, while the other two and the pilot were uninjured. Winds recorded at the airport at the time of the accident were from 150 degrees at nine knots, gusting to 14 knots. The probable cause was the pilot’s inadequate flare, the improper recovery from a bounced landing, the loss of directional control and the inadequate compensation for the crosswind. The crosswind was a factor.

Peter Katz is editor and publisher of NTSB Reporter, an independent monthly update on aircraft accident investigations and other news concerning the National Transportation Safety Board. To subscribe, write to: NTSB Reporter, Subscription Dept., P.O. Box 831, White Plains, NY 10602-0831.


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